FOUNDING CHAIRMAN - STUART BRADBURY 1945-2020

MEMBER OBITUARY NOTICE – “King Harold” Bull

MEMBER OBITUARY NOTICE

23.3.2023

Member: “King Harold” Bull

Inducted: 2010

We were very sorry to hear of the death of British Drag Racing Hall of Fame member “King Harold” Bull on Monday at the age of 98 following a fall.

Harold’s daughter Jane Maloney wrote: “With huge sadness I have to say that my beloved Dad “King Harold” Bull passed away last night at the grand age of 98 years young! He went very peacefully in his sleep (a little help with morphine to help the pain from a fall) and is deeply missed already. He went racing for the final time in the recreated Stripduster dragster at the 2016 Dragstalgia Meeting aged 91. Dad…a true legend…always.”

Harold was born in Shepherds Bush, London on 4th September 1924. After completing his large family, he started buying American Hot Rod magazines and was totally smitten. He heard the Americans were bringing some dragsters over to Blackbushe Airfield in ’64, went along for the day. He returned home full of ideas to build a scaled down version of the American Dragsters he had seen using British components.

Harold was a self-taught engineer and tool maker. The original Stripduster, utilising a BMC 803cc A series engine, was built in 1965 in five months as a hobby car, more for fun than a serious race car. Her first outing was at Chobham Common, Surrey, where there was a strip of unused concrete on which she had her maiden run. Consequently, someone complained about the noise and the police arrived, only to find the car much more interesting than arresting Harold for trespassing. The police told him to ‘move along’ and not come back – so he had to find somewhere else to run Stripduster. He took it along to Gravely practice day in August 1965 then entered the 2nd International Drag Festival and wound-up runner up in the “up to 2500cc” Dragster Eliminator at Woodvale.

At Santa Pod Raceway, King Harold, as he became affectionately known, holds the honour of running the very first timed pass in Stripduster at the Easter meeting on 11th April 1966. He improved the car by using nitro, a homemade blower and injector setup (pictured left above, John Smith photo), eventually running a 9.75/136 pass in 1971 which got Harold an article in the national press.

In 1967 he teamed up with Derek Metcalf to form B & M Equipment producing anything from small brackets to complete dragsters, including Clive Skilton’s 2nd Revolution. He also took “Stripduster” over to Sweden in 1969 as part of a team of British cars and bikes. He retired from racing following an accident in Nobby Hills’ “Houndog” dragster in which he was unhurt, nevertheless having run his personal best of 8.15/189 to add to his 40 trophies, world records and strip records in England, Germany and Sweden.

In his nineties, Harold, still driving, was still building working ¼ scale model engines on his lathe in the garden shed, as well as model planes and helicopters (photographs of his engines can be seen at this link). He also memorably returned to Santa Pod at Dragstalgia 2016 for one last blast down the track (pictured right above), in an immaculate reproduction of Stripteaser, against fellow pioneer Ken Cooper.

He was married to Ethel for over 60 years, who very sadly passed away on January 22nd, 2010; they produced six sons, one daughter, twelve grandchildren and four great grandchildren. We send our deepest condolences to all his family and friends.

You can see a number of stories about Harold and many photos at stripduster.co.uk, established by Jane to share his history.

Courtesy Simon Groves for eurodragster.com